This article explores dynamic relations governing population growth, resource depletion, and world economics by means of a few simple modeling and simulation exercises. To this end, we start out by exploring the concept of an ecological footprint, representing the amount of land that a person needs to produce everything that he or she consumes: food, clothing, energy, shelter, the tools that are needed to make the clothing, etc. and place it in relation with the human development index, a measure of the quality of life of an individual. We then relate the ecological footprint to the per capita energy consumption. This discussion serves to provide a quantitative understanding of the limited resources that are at our disposal.
The article continues by exploring the dangers and seductions of exponential growth, and uses a system dynamics approach to illustrate why we are moving at a rapid pace toward global collapse with our eyes wide shut.
The article ends by discussing what we would need to do in order to avoid the looming collapse.